Italy's insane Internet law prompts removal of Italian Wikipedia

Prompted by Italy's punitive (batshit) wiretapping law proposal, Wikipedia has removed its Italian version and now directs anyone trying to find Italian Wikipedia to a page explaining that Italy's Internet law will make it impossible to have an Italian Wikipedia:

This proposal, which the Italian Parliament is currently debating, provides, among other things, a requirement to all websites to publish, within 48 hours of the request and without any comment, a correction of any content that the applicant deems detrimental to his/her image.

Unfortunately, the law does not require an evaluation of the claim by an impartial third judge - the opinion of the person allegedly injured is all that is required, in order to impose such correction to any website.

Hence, anyone who feels offended by any content published on a blog, an online newspaper and, most likely, even on Wikipedia can directly request to publish a "corrected" version, aimed to contradict and disprove the allegedly harmful contents, regardless of the truthfulness of the information deemed as offensive, and its sources...

The obligation to publish on our site the correction as is, provided by the named paragraph 29, without even the right to discuss and verify the claim, is an unacceptable restriction of the freedom and independence of Wikipedia, to the point of distorting the principles on which the Free Encyclopedia is based and this would bring to a paralysis of the "horizontal" method of access and editing, putting - in fact - an end to its existence as we have known until today.


  1. Taking down the whole Italian Wikipedia should have quite an effect in the country. I mean seriously, how can anyone who uses their brain live without it? Let’s see what happens next… Protests, an uprising of the intellectuals? Maybe not. But the brain-damaged, morally corrupted politicians who designed this crap might be in for a surprise.

  2. The privileged strike back. I guess events over the past couple of years have finally driven home to them the power that the Internet places in the hands of the majority. Now it’s up to us to not let these attempts to re-protect privilege pass… I have a feeling there will be much more of this coming in the near future.

  3. This is probably a good thing. Not the law, but the effects it will likely have. Most stupid internet laws are personally irrelevant and/or too confusing for most people to care. But Wikipedia is something everybody knows about and everybody uses, and taking it down because some people might be offended is something that everyone can understand and see is stupid. I can see it making people wonder what other nonsense their elected representatives have been up to.

    1. “I expect Wikipedians to bleat loudly for a few weeks and then settle down for business as usual.”

      Wrong. Wikipedia has a strongly enforced NPOV (neutral point of view) policy. It also doesn’t allow ‘original reporting’. Yet, if the law is passed Wikipedia would be obliged to replace any material an Italian individual finds offensive to him, with material of his choosing. This would violate both rules. The law is an antithesis of sorts to the ideas behind Wikipedia.

      Now those rules were made for good reasons, reasons that are obviously beyond the typical politician. You know stuff like fairness, compromise, democracy. Seems they’re made of other stuff.

      Also the ‘offending’ content has to be replaced within 48h…

      So no, if the law passes the Italian community of Wikipedia editors will not likely just return to business as usual!

      1. Thanks for explaining.  At first I was thinking that this law wouldn’t really affect Wikipedia because if you see something there you think is wrong, you don’t need to go to court, you can just login and change it. 

        But you make a good point about why this proposed law is incompatible with Wikipedia’s ideals.

    2. Hi, I wrote the original entry for Signpost. At the time I wrote it, it was being discussed on IRC and on Italian Wikipedia’s Bar as being a 24 hour protest. It ended up being a bit longer than that, but the original consensus on itwiki was (as best as I can tell) for a short shutdown, although some in the discussion were agitating for an as-long-as-it-takes shutdown.

  4. I see what you’re saying atismoshenko, but aren’t wikipedia contributors and users privileged too? These are people with access to computers and Internet access (not cheap), better-than-average written language skills, and specialized subject knowledge. I associate having money, a voice, and specialized skills with privilege and power, not the majority.

    It doesn’t detract from your point or the article here. It’s just I have a hard time believing that wikipedia is the democratic masses ‘rising up.’ It is more, the up rising against the slightly more up.

    1. No, not really. You can buy an hour of access for less than 50 cents of a dollar. You do not need to own a computer to contribute. 
      I am not sure where have you been for the last decade, but the Internet is not the turf of privileged Western people anymore.

  5. Whatever it is, it’s awesome to see someone with some degree of leverage fighting back a bit against these stupid restrictive laws. And really, it has to be someone with some power or leverage. If I myself want to protest a government’s restrictive legislation, no one is going to give a damn. If Wiki does it, it makes a splash. Imagine if they lost Google?

  6. Yes, the new Italian law is completely crazy, but … does the Italian-language Wikipedia have to abide by that law? Wikipedia is not located in Italy, and writing in Italian does not move it within the Italian government’s jurisdiction. If I put up a blog in English, that also does not put it under the English or US government’s jurisdiction. So the IT Wikipedia should be okay, or do I misunderstand something?

    1. The problem as I understand it is not that Wikimedia has to abide by the law, but that the Italian editors themselves (who are responsible for what goes onto the wiki).

    1. Do I detect the hand of Silvio Berlusconi here? It sounds like something he’d appreciate.

      The first rule of Italian Government Club is Do not talk about Silvio Berlusconi.
      The second rule of Italian Government Club is Make more rules to prevent people from talking about Silvio Berlusconi.

  7. I’d like to know, like Carsten Agger, why wikipedia believe their italianate sites are threatened by Italian law. It seems highly unlikely that such a law would be framed so as to refer to websites written only in the Italian language. In which case is anybody claiming that this law applies to any website anywhere in the world? And if that be the case, is there anything we can do to our own hosted websites – a quick fix for wordpress/blogspot/tumblr etc – which we could apply? Obviously huskerdont’s quite right to suppose that nobody’s going to give a damn if individual blogs became unavailable to Italians, but as a symbolic act by dozens, hundreds, thousands of bloggers, it would be rather neat.

    Naturally I’m fond of both Italy and the Italian peeps, and have trouble only with stupid authorities anywhere. And I shouldn’t have to say that.

    1. Since the law hasn’t even passed yet, I don’t think the Italian Wikipedia has been pulled because of fear of the law, but because it it protesting the law.

      It’s true that their statement makes it seem as if content could be removed from Wikipedia, but I don’t think that’s the main intent. I think the idea is to say to the Italian lawmakers “Think! Do you realize what this would mean! Stop for one moment and think!”

      Of course, it may not have any effect, because the lawmakers may just look confused and say “Wikipedia isn’t Italian, they won’t have to comply. We’re only attacking those evil Italian blogs who hate Berlusconi.”

      1. yes, wikipedia has closed as a form of protest against the absurd law that has been proposed in Italy, most likely, if this law is approved, will close all the sites of its kind because it always will be defamatory to someone.

  8. They probably believe Italian law applies to the Italian Wikipedia by virtue of it residing in the .it TLD.  Moving the site to would likely be an equally valid defensive move, but doing that would validate the law rather than opposing it.

    1. Italian Wikipedia does already reside at All wikipedias are at * subdomains.

    2. No, they were protesting because it would affect Italian citizens – the vast majority of contributors to Italian Wikipedia are Italian citizens.

  9. Damn I was just about to post several A4 pages worth of praise and accolades for Mr. Berlusconi to his Italian Wikipedia article.

  10. I’m here to discuss with you that you are not in Italy, according to this new law that threatened wikipedia, the Italians in our blog we could not publish news that would be defamatory against anyone.
    As absurd as if I now write: Berlusconi shit, I could risk the permanent closure of my blogIt’s really INSANE!

  11. And to imagine, all this and much more brought on by the power trip of one psychopath. Put into office by the vote of the people. Humans are strange and abhorrent animals indeed.

  12. This just goes to prove what we’ve always known.  The Mafia is in charge of the Italian government, and their citizens are equally guilty for allowing it.  Only the guilty fear truth and free speech.

  13. The funniest implication of this law would be that even the newspapers and Institutional “information” websites would be required to follow it.

    For your consideration: what about sending a 600 pages long “correction” for EACH article of EVERY newspaper? No need for it to be pertinent: they’d have to publish (read: print, at a cost) it in its entirety within 24 hours or close down forever.
    Seriously, if enough activist would automate the process for web-based infosources, I guess there would be at least a chance of heavy server disruptions…

  14. If they pass this stupid law, anyone who wants to rail on Berlusconi in Italian can have a guestblogging account on my US-based blog. That guy is a miserable excuse of a man who will hopefully end up in jail, or with more statues being thrown at his face.

    Reply if interested.

  15. Haha, and so, it begins.  Remember the last boingboing post on this?  All of Italy is about to remove itself from the Internet.  LOL.

  16. The protest by italian Wikipedia is drawing the attention of italian internauts: a “we want wikipedia back – say no to the gag law” facebook group gained >233.000 likes in less than a day. Hitting a ‘like’ button is less demanding than any other form of activism, but at least it’s a sign…

  17. What if Jimmy Wales or other noted US Wikipedians want to travel to Europe?  They could be arrested at their port of entry under the European Arrest Warrant and shipped to Italy for breaking this law.

    Of course this is likely to hit Italian Wikipedia editors first and hardest.

  18. I am somewhat facinated with the concept of this law. Its unfotunate that it removes Italian Wikipedia from the web for the moment but it does deal with one of the most difficult aspects of the web in an interesting way. That is whether we absolutely have to give up the right to any anonimity or privacy just because the web came into existance. Is it right that social networking sites can sell your entire back history many decades after it becomes irrelevant to the person you have become for example? Do you have no rights over the representation of youself on the web whilst you are alive? This is a clumsy law but it contains an interesting presumption that you should have a right over some of the information representing you in cyberspace. I think we need to think about this more carefully before rejecting it and thinking automatically that it is a charter for frauds alone or an insane attack on the freedom of information. What if Wikipedia had two pages on living people, the approved version and the uncontrolled version for example. What else could we do to improve on this law?

    1. I agree. And yet whatever improvements we can make to the web and its content, should be done within the Internet community, and leaving out teh lawmakers who still think it’s just a bunch of tubes.

      I’m Mexican, and here politicians want to create stupid laws in order to silence subversive Twitter users.

      It all just goes to show that Governments and personal computers are inherently incompatible; and that at some point we will have to make a decision on which to preserve and which to eradicate.

  19. I agree. And yet whatever improvements we can make to the web and its content, should be done within the Internet community, and leaving out teh lawmakers who still think it’s just a bunch of tubes.

  20. So If I deem a posting about Berlusconi to be detrimental to my image. (not saying any sane person would agree since there is no relation between my image and Mr. Berlusconi) Then I can ask that it be replaced with an article about house-training unicorns?

  21. Italy seems a bit paranoid when it comes to the internet, such as making people produce IDs in internet cafes.

  22. Critical Logical Fallacy Detected!  Gent A posts, “Gent B is a nincompoop.”.  Gent B protests.  Gent A is  in fact a nincompoop.  Gent A protests.  Gent B is actually the real nincompoop.  Gent A protests…Circular Logic Fail.

  23. a requirement to all websites to publish, within 48 hours of the request and without any comment, a correction of any content that the applicant deems detrimental to his/her image.

    So if I send a message to a person  which they don’t like and they read it on a webmail client then the webmail provider has to show the message to them again with the nasty bits removed?

  24. Very sad, as a person of Italian decent and a lover of Italian food, culture, people, etc. Italy has been high up on my list of countries I want to visit next. These days, not so sure. Just so much clamping down on what I consider to be basic freedoms.

  25. Who really cares what the law is in Italy,  besides people in Italy?  As long as there is no content hosted in Italy Itself  there isn’t really much they can do about it.  If Italy doesn’t like what the rest of the world has to say they can go ahead F off.  Oh and can we please leave bOING bOING like this.

    1. Italy is currently suffering from a failure of healthy democracy, in a manner which most first-world countries are not totally immune. I don’t think shutting them off and letting them fester is good for either us or them, any more than locking a close relative with a bad case of the flu in the basement is a good idea. What happens to them matters.

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